Ilocos farmers and tobacco have a long history but the things that keep them together despite the numerous difficulties are beyond sentimental. Farmers are chained to the crop by political and economic circumstances perpetuated by the deeply rooted social inequality in the Philippines.
Tobacco farmers were disappointed with the measly P1.00 increase on all types of tobacco, across the grades offered by traders during the tripartite conference held on September 25 in Quezon City, Philippines.
This famous mountain retreat is taking the challenge of preserving nature and teaching visitors to respect their culture, while increasing the town’s revenue from the tourism sector.
The plummeting prices of unhusked rice are convincing more and more farmers that safeguards in the Rice Trade Liberalization Law flaunted by the Duterte government like the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund are ineffective to cushion the destructive impact of trade liberalization in the agriculture sector.
Visita Iglesia is a popular term among Catholics who travel from one church to another to pray and pay respect to their patron saint especially during the Holy Week. Military personnel from the 7th Infantry Division are doing the same thing for their “community engagement program” under the Joint Campaign Plan (JCP) Kapanatagan, hopping from church to church in Ilocos, Northern Philippines, except for the part where they “pray and pay respect.”
The passage of the Rice Liberalization Act (RA 11203) to resolve the looming rice supply crisis and inflation, as claimed by the economic managers of the Duterte administration, showed that the government never learned from the economic tragedies brought by more than three decades of globalization policies (liberalization, deregulation, and privatization) in the Philippines.
The fact that the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples is run by a commission composed of political appointees casts doubts to its independence from the influence of the appointing official or the one having the oversight. In the case of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, its decision to give the Certification Precondition despite the violations committed heightened the pre-existing misgivings to the impartiality of the office, especially on government-initiated projects.
Apart from the onerous loan agreement, other controversies continue to surface in relation to the P4.3 billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project (CRPIP). For this project, the first and biggest soft loan package offered by China to the Philippines, the Duterte government has trampled the principles of free and prior informed consent (FPIC) and thus the rights of indigenous peoples.
The recent clashes between the PNP and the NPA in the Mountain Province again put the issue of the use of anti-personnel explosives in the limelight with the government accusing the rebels of violating International Humanitarian Law. But are all anti-personnel explosives prohibited under the Ottawa Convention? Are the NPA bound to adhere to formal and customary laws of war?
Most reports provided the basic information about the clashes, enough to inform the readers of what transpired. However, straight news that dwells only on the firefight and the casualties tends to create further division among the people. It leaves a data gap on the circumstances that caused the events and the reasons why the war in the countryside continue to rage.
Before the controversial Chico River Pump Irrigation Project of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), there was the Banaoang Pump Irrigation Project (now Banaoang Pump Irrigation System or BPIS) in Ilocos Sur. A facility funded and built by the Chinese government that can provide added and solid ground why people should be concerned of the CRPIP loan agreement.
The lessons from the courageous narratives of Lamnamkok and Chico are an inspiration not only to indigenous peoples but also the younger generations of rights defenders around the world who believe that, in a way or another, we can change the world.